President Paul Kagame has warned African youth to stop making the continent look like a ‘cursed’ one.
Kagame said; “God gave us more than what he gave others. Let us be proud and use these resources.”
On Friday, October 5, Kagame interacted with 90 young Africans from across the continent who completed a two-week course on volunteerism in Rwanda.
In 2010, African Union launched the African Union Youth Volunteer Corps (AU-YVC) – a continental development program that recruits and works with youth volunteers, to work in all 54 countries across the African Union.
At the completion of the course for this year’s 9th batch, the youth had an opportunity to interact with President Kagame, who, in his address, challenged them to find solutions to why the continent has been left behind yet it was, 40 years ago, on the same economic status with other continents.
“God gave us everything to use; a rich continent and brains to produce more but why do we as a continent keep going back and ask God to help us? Africa needs the youth to think and do things differently and better than we did,” Kagame told volunteer corps at Rwanda Defence Force headquarters in the capital Kigali.
“As young people you don’t have as many limitations as you perceive. You have the potential in you to be anything you want. You can contribute to make your country and continent what it deserves to be,” the President said.
Kagame, who is the current chairperson of the African Union, said he has seen in the news young Africans drown in the Mediterranean Sea fleeing their homes, which he said gives a bad image to the continent.
“What is it that we can do to have our youth stay in the continent, meet challenges, enjoy opportunities, thrive and build our nations and continent to what we want? We need to find more value in Africa so that we can work, visit and trade with each other,” he said.
According to President Kagame, “There are problems that are specific to different parts of our continent but the more we work and stand together the more strength we have in tackling these challenges. This is the African Union idea and should be the ideal that leads and drives you as young Africans,” he added.
Kagame said that Africans have always been quick to learn bad manners by colonialists who, at some point, taught them to kill each other.
“During colonial times we were taught that we were different and should kill each other. There is no better way of changing this than with you young people,” he told the youth.
A new force to invent Africa
From today’s session, the 9th AU-YVC members exhibited that there is a new force in the making that would completely invent a new Africa.
For instance, excitement filled delegates when the corps sung patriotic songs in Kiswahili – a language only used in East Africa.
But the youth, who have been in Rwanda for the past two weeks, surprised many including President Paul Kagame that one day, Africa can speak one language.
In some of the songs, members of the 9th batch of the AU Youth Volunteer Corps vowed to help every African leader to transform the country.
From Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi and Kenya in the East, South Africa and Zimbabwe in the far South of the continent, the youth corps sung songs of determination to help the leaders in ongoing transformation of their countries.
The programme promotes volunteering to deepen the status of young people in Africa as key participants in the delivery of Africa’s human development targets and goals.
It also brings people together to share skills, knowledge, creativity and learning to build a more integrated Continent and by implication strengthen Africa’s relevance in the globalized world.
In his advice to the youth, Kagame said that: “Volunteering is a matter of choice. When we got involved as young people in liberating our country, we did not expect any benefits. We wanted people to find a purpose beyond themselves.”
“The African Union helps countries lagging behind on some reforms. We want to make sure every country grows and helps each other to grow but being together doesn’t mean we will all be at the same level, nevertheless everybody benefits,” he added.
Mona Moustafa – a MBA student at University of Akron in Ohio, United States and a member of the corps, said Rwanda remains a living example of what they will help do in respective countries of their deployment.
“During our stay in Rwanda, we managed to visit different places such as the Kigali Genocide memorial, the Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission, the Campaign against the Genocide museum. We have seen how Rwanda was transformed after the genocide and it something to take as example,” she said.
The concept of establishing the African Youth Charter is in line with the Decision of AU Head of States and Governments in January 2010, to set up a continental Volunteer initiative.
AU-YVC was officially launched on December 3, 2010 in Abuja, Nigeria.